With THE LIGHT OF EVENING Edna O'Brien returns to the world of her early fiction, rural Ireland and the relationship between mother and daughter. Whereas her first novel THE COUNTRY GIRLS was, as she once said, ' a simple little tale of two girls who were trying to burst out of their gym frocks and their convent, and their own lives in their own houses, to make it to the big city', in THE LIGHT OF THE EVENING the mother is dying, her daughter, a writer, is in the aftermath of a rotten marriage. The novel reflects their lives down the years. There are moments of lyricism and anecdote, but as with everything Edna O'Brien writes, it is her understanding of character that wins through. When we meet the mother, now in her seventies, she is seeing her doctor. She knows she is seriously unwell. Ovarian cancer is diagnosed. First the mother tries a faith-healer, but eventually accepts the inevitable and hospitalisation. There she recalls her life: going to America (through Ellis Island), becoming a servant - this historical part is full of good anecdote. The mother marries back in Ireland.Her husband loves training horses; as well as a daughter there is a son, who becomes involved with the IRA and dies. The daughter is sophisticated, she leaves Ireland, marries an older man (is this to escape?), starts reading for a publisher, then writing, has children. Back to her mother in Ireland she sends gifts. As her mother lies dying she returns. The author's understanding of the mother-daughter relationship makes the appeal of this novel universal.
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'O'Brien's eloquent, luminous prose is used to rich effect in this story of a mother and daughter, and the turbulent passions that they provoke in one another.' -- Eithne Farry DAILY MAIL 'flashes of wry humour abound... O'Brien's anguish over the bonds between mothers and daughters is heartfelt, but the power of her book comes from the comparison between the existence of the woman who returned to the limitations of her early years and the life of one who escaped. Neither found happiness, which is why the tale is moving.' -- Sarah Curtis TLS 'a courageous as well as an artful book. It is also a poignant one.' -- Joseph O'Connor IRISH TIMES 'a stunning writer whose career has yet to be properly appreciated.' -- Lesley McDowell THE SUNDAY HERALD 'O'Brien's writing is as liltingly lyrical as ever. It is easy to get lost in the sheer lushness of her descriptions of life as a young Irish immigrant in America.' -- Diane Maclean THE SCOTSMAN 'Devotees of O'Brien's novels will welcome her return to something like her old sensuous, sensitive poetic form.' -- David Robson THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'it became apparent what was actually remarkable about her writing, what had been remarkable all along: it was not sex, at all: but honesty.' -- Anne Enright THE GUARDIAN 'Written in elegant lyrical sentences that are, at times, nearer to poetry than prose, this is, in the evening of her own career, perhaps O'Brien's finest work.' -- Simon Humphreys THE MAIL ON SUNDAY 'This book is a triumph of lyricism and honesty, of a brave and painful confrontation of loss and attachment, written with the unmatched textual sensibility of O'Brien at her finest.' -- Mary Kenny THE SUNDAY INDEPENDENT
About Edna O'Brien
Edna O'Brien is the author of 19 books. She was the winner of the 1993 Writers' Guild Prize for Fiction. Recently she has written about Irish topics - religion, politics, property. In 2001 her novel, In the Forest - about a brutal murder on the west coast - caused a furore throughout Ireland.
The Light of Evening by Edna O'Brien
Used - Very Good
Orion Publishing Co
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